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EMC to sell PCIe SSD cards for server acceleration

Lucas Mearian, Computerworld | May 9, 2011
LAS VEGAS -- As part of its strategy to touch just about every part of the private and public cloud infrastructure, EMC said today it will begin selling PCIe flash cards for servers to accelerate I/O to and from backend storage systems.

LAS VEGAS -- As part of its strategy to touch just about every part of the private and public cloud infrastructure, EMC said today it will begin selling PCIe flash cards for servers to accelerate I/O to and from backend storage systems.

The company also said that as part of its strategy to accelerate solid state drive (SSD) adoption, it has made available an all-NAND flash version of its high-end Virtual Matrix Architecture (VMAX) Symmetrix array and entry-level and later this year will release an all-flash version of its midrange VNX unified storage systems, which offers access to file- and block-level data.

The company said it has already sold "several" all-flash Symmetrix VMAX arrays to customers with extremely demanding I/O workloads.

In light of its increased development of flash-based storage systems, EMC has created a dedicated flash business unit, which will build new systems and create and manage strategic partner and supplier relationships.

But, EMC's entry into flash drives for server is a new avenue for the company, although it is tied to its strategy toward virtualization, the cloud and big data.

Pat Gelsinger, chief operating officer of EMC's Information Infrastructure Products, said the server flash card would be similar to what Fusion-io sells, but that its product is specifically addressing acceleration of I/O between servers and backend storage.

EMC CEO Joe Tucci referred to the products as "Project Lightening" earlier in the day during his morning keynote speech at the company's annual user conference here. But Tucci refrained from giving any specific details.

Gelsinger said the cards were aimed at high-availability environments, as they relate to backend networked storage.

"There are a niche of applications that don't require [a] relationship with shared storage," he said, pointing to trading applications and high-performance analytics as an example. "But, most of enterprise applications have some relationship with a shared storage environment."

Gelsinger alluded that the cards would possibly be coming from Intel, which is an EMC partner.

Intel and Micron told Computerworld earlier this year that their joint manufacturing venture, IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), would be producing a PCIe flash card later this year, to be called the P320h.

The P320h will be a follow-on product to Micron's first enterprise-class SSD, the P300, which is based on the serial ATA (SATA) interface and single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory.

The P320h will also use SLC NAND flash along with a technology based on a familiar acronym with a different twist: RAIN, or redundant array of independent NAND. RAIN is more commonly defined as "redundant array of independent (or inexpensive) nodes," which refers to the building blocks of a grid storage architecture that incorporates both processors and disk storage in one unit.

 

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